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Clippers' key players, together again at last

Injuries have kept players such as Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Chauncey Billups on the sidelines. But that changed Friday.

February 08, 2013|By Broderick Turner
  • Clippers' Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Chauncey Billups will be back in action against Miami on Friday.
Clippers' Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Chauncey Billups will be… (John Raoux / Associated…)

MIAMI — On Thursday, the 13 key players on the Clippers practiced together for the first time this season, and it left Jamal Crawford in awe.

There was Chris Paul, practicing after missing nine consecutive games and 12 of 14 with a bruised right kneecap.

There was Chauncey Billups (tendinitis left foot), playing after missing 34 consecutive games. Blake Griffin was back after missing the last two with a strained left hamstring. Crawford had returned after missing one with a sore right shoulder.

And Grant Hill was playing again after having missed 36 games with a bone bruise in his right knee.

On Friday night against the Miami Heat, all of them were available to play — the first time that has happened all season.

"I was looking in our huddle while Coach [Vinny Del Negro] was talking, and I was like, 'This is unreal,'" Crawford said. "I was like, 'How did they do this? … It's unbelievable. We still have a ways to go, and we have to continue to get better and see where it goes."

Crawford was the last in the group to decide to play Friday night.

He admitted that after the shoot-around earlier in the day he couldn't lift his arm. But after working with a chiropractor, he played. Crawford scored 13 points in the game.

Now he sees perhaps the deepest team in the NBA finally playing together.

"We said that from the start though," Crawford said. "Like in China [for two exhibition games] we saw it. We saw a glimpse of it, but we still didn't have everybody."

Barnes injures hand

If it's the Clippers, there must be an injury waiting to happen.

And it did — to Matt Barnes, who injured his left hand.

Barnes then played with a black glove to protect his swollen hand. After the game, he got X-rays that revealed a bone bruise.

"It wouldn't bend at all," he said. "But I'll be all right."

Hill left out

Hill was the one player for the Clippers who didn't play against the Heat.

Del Negro said small forward Hill didn't play because of a swollen right knee and because there wasn't enough playing time available.

"There are not a lot of minutes out there right now," Del Negro said. "We just got some guys back. I really wanted to rest Grant Hill tonight because of his knee being sore at practice yesterday."


Before the game, Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra presented Clippers forward Ronny Turiaf with the NBA championship ring he earned last season with the Heat.

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